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Cyril Ramaphosa gives the ANC a spanking

Hi there and welcome to The Wrap simple news updates for busy people, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the team at explain.co.za 💁🏽‍♀

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▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 1. OUR TAKE: IT’S TIME FOR RENEWAL IN THE DA 🍃

The DA is gearing up to choose a new leader at its conference at the end of October. In the running are John Steenhuisen, Mbali Ntuli and John Moodey, all vying to fill Mmusi Maimane’s vacated chair. Steenhuisen has been in the job since Maimane quit the party in October last year, and seems to be the frontrunner, with Ntuli – the party’s former youth leader – as the underdog hopeful and Moodey – the DA’s leader in Gauteng – a distant third.

We’re hoping for Ntuli, underdog or not. The 32-year-old is a bright young politician who has worked her way up the party ranks as a councillor and member of KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial legislature. She’s also faced off against the party’s former leader and doyen Helen Zille, standing her ground and sticking to her principles.

The DA needs renewal. Steenhuisen represents the “establishment” within the party, who lean ever more towards conservative liberalism and shun racial transformation. Steenhuisen also bungled the party’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis: he’s criticised the lockdown – although the party initially supported it – and has hosted Youtube interviews featuring crackpots who deny the seriousness of Covid-19. And he hasn’t stood up to Zille when she has said totally unacceptable things.

Ntuli represents a younger, more social democratic faction of the party. Her campaign slogan is “Kind, strong and fair”, 👌🏽 which tells you a lot.

She’s also pushing back against the DA’s decision to use an online voting system for the congress.

According to the Sunday Times, Ntuli told the party’s leadership that the online system was open to abuse, because it wasn’t possible to verify voters and it couldn’t be audited. Those are pretty serious concerns. Yet, the DA went to great lengths last Friday to defend the use of the system.

If the outcome of the election is challenged or rejected after the congress, it will be the very last thing that the battered and bruised DA can afford.

Meanwhile, we still have the ANC in power – it has presided over too many scandals to count, and its track record on governance is TERRIBLE. 🤐 And yes, its share of the vote has been declining – but so has the DA’s. The EFF only has about 10% of the national vote, so it is about as close to occupying the Union Buildings as Steenhuisen is to making peace with black Twitter. But the EFF and other parties representing narrow and radical interests are the only ones growing. This is not good for us: we need an opposition party that unifies all South Africans, with the necessary support to keep the ANC in check.

We’re begging you, DA: Don’t screw this one up. 👆🏽

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 2. THE BIG STORY: SHOTS FIRED! CYRIL’S SCATHING LETTER TO THE ANC 😤

Whoa, Cyril. We did NOT see this one coming. 👀

President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote to the ANC membership on Sunday, bending the party over his knee and giving it six of the best. (Metaphorically, of course – corporal punishment is against the law now, so please don’t try this at home.)
He said South Africans were justified in their outrage at tender corruption related to Covid-19, which he called an “unforgivable betrayal” to millions of South Africans.

“Today, the ANC and its leaders stand accused of corruption. The ANC may not stand alone in the dock, but it does stand as Accused No. 1.”

Geez, Cyril. Why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

It’s a mammoth admission by the ANC and state president, and a far cry from the “guilty until proven innocent” stance the party usually takes when its members are accused of corruption.

Ramaphosa may have gone over the heads of the ANC’s leadership in writing the letter, including the party’s secretary general and deputy president, who both stand accused of corruption. As the Daily Maverick’s Stephen Grootes has written, hopefully this marks the end of Cyril’s style of decision-making by consensus, which is REALLY wearing thin.

It sure feels good that there’s a grown-up in the room, doesn’t it? Now to see whether the ANC will actually listen. To their credit it seems provincial leaders are rolling up their sleeves and auditing ANC members at all levels of the state, including in government and the provincial and national legislatures.

But how is it all going to play out? Analyst William Gumede wrote in the Sunday Times that the only way forward for Cyril would be to form a breakaway party, because the ANC simply cannot reconcile the Cyril-led clean-up group with the state capture faction still lingering in its ranks.

That’s a dramatic scenario, but not the first time the idea has been floated. After the 2019 elections, the DA’s James Selfe said the party was positioning itself to govern in partnership with a “constitutionalist” part of the ANC, led by Ramaphosa. We know it sounds crazy, but the DA did once team up with the EFF, so stranger things have happened!

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 3. NEWS BRIEFS ✍🏽

▪️ ‘It could have been so much worse’

SA has done a fairly decent job of reducing Covid deaths, GroundUp reports. Many have latched on to reports that we have the fifth highest number of infections globally and the worst in Africa… but this doesn’t give us the whole picture.

Firstly, it’s more useful to compare deaths per million people – and by that measure we rank 31st. Plus, SA has performed more tests than most – we’re in about 16th place for that, worldwide. And, for a range of pretty convincing reasons by the publication, it’s unlikely that there are undocumented Covid deaths disguising our low total. As the publication put it, lockdowns work. “Had we continued life more or less as normal after 16 March, what would have happened? … We have probably avoided a devastating flood of deaths.” Yes, there were bad missteps by the government. But despite this, it has managed to reduce Covid-19 deaths. 🙌🏽

▪️ Whither Eskom?

South Africa’s perennial problem child is the gift that never stops taking 👀. Eskom faces a maintenance backlog at its power stations and, with its complete lack of half-decent management, energy experts fear its power stations will simply carry on falling apart, City Press reported this week. This is … not great? More… horrifying? The two biggest threats to economic recovery, according to economists, are load-shedding and, to a greater degree, lack of government reforms. But are repeated attempts to fix the maintenance backlog the solution? SA’s foremost energy expert, Chris Yelland, doesn’t think so. He reckons Eskom should sell its problem power stations, with conditions for the buyers that it can sell power from them for 20 years – at reasonable prices. “With a guaranteed income stream, investors can pump money into the power stations.” That sounds like a good solution to us, but especially if it’s paired with a massive boost in renewable energy.

▪️ Don’t touch Tito on his Clark’s!

The finance minister loves a good Twitter brawl almost as much as he loves sharing his torturous dinner preparations. (This week’s Sunday lunch was a disaster, Tito. That chicken was a crime scene.) 🙊 Lately, though, it’s his shoes that have been getting all the attention. Mboweni infamously wears shoes that seem… let’s be nice and say a bit worse for wear, and he gets quite a bit of flack for it. This week Mboweni jovially hit back at his footwear critics, insisting his shoes were Clark’s, cost over R1000, and that Ramaphosa wears the same ones. 👞

Look, we’d take cheap shoes any day over the likes of Mboweni’s predecessor, Malusi Gigaba, who according to reports this week allegedly used cash he got from the Guptas to pay for his fancy suits and footwear. 😤

▪️ Jacques and awe

A big shoutout to Jacques Kallis, the former Proteas cricketer, who has just been inducted into the International Cricket Council’s hall of fame! Think about it like getting a star on Hollywood Boulevard, but for cricket. Kallis is only the fourth cricketer from South Africa ever to have had the honour. We salute him, while also hoping that he will be part of the larger change happening in cricket around acknowledging racism in the sport. Makhaya Ntini, the Proteas’ first black player back in the day, recently revealed he was routinely excluded by his team-mates… who included Kallis. The hall-of-famer has yet to respond.

▪️ Arms deal: A new hope?

A long time ago, in a Pretoria council chamber not-so-far away (cue Star Wars music) our judicial umpires failed to strike back: Two judges inexplicably exonerated anyone accused of corruption in the arms deal, after a four-year commission of inquiry! 😳 Now, a group of activists has complained to the chief justice about those judges: Willie Seriti and Hendrick Musi. They believe an investigation will show that the arms deal was stained by billions of rands in bribes, and the judges who let the guilty parties off the hook should lose their jobs. 😯

▪️ Pearl and Tol Ass Mo: All BETs are off

Local actress and tv host Pearl Thusi landed in hot water this past week after excitedly announcing she would be interviewing retired comedian Mongezi ‘Tol Ass Mo’ Mahlangu. The problem? Mahlangu was accused of rape by actress Lerato Moloi earlier this month. He’s denied the allegations. Thusi faced a huge backlash. At first she defended the choice but BET Africa, where the interview would have aired, stepped in to say the interview was cancelled, finish and klaar.

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 4. INTERNATIONAL

🔸 Trump has a tough act to follow

It’s a tale of two conventions in America right now. On the one hand, the Republican convention is coming up this week, where the party of Donald Trump will formally nominate its candidate for president. (Spoiler: it’s Donald Trump!)

The Democratic convention took place last week, already, and former vice president Joe Biden has been confirmed as the Democratic Party’s candidate. The virtual event was filled with inspiring speeches from the likes of vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, Barack and Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Biden himself – with a surprisingly gaffe-free speech in which he promised to be a president for all Americans.

Trump’s speech is likely to be dampened by recent revelations: As the New York Times noted, a damning report has been released, authored by legislators from his own party, concerning Russia’s efforts to help Trump win in 2016. Plus a government agency has revealed that a member of the president’s cabinet is serving in violation of the law. Not to mention a court ruling that Trump can’t keep his tax returns secret. The race to open that big box of tricksiness is officially on!

And unlike the Democratic convention, where progressives and liberals put their differences aside to rally round Biden, solidarity appears to be in short supply at Republican HQ. Some notable former leaders are set to be convention no-shows. Expected absentees include George W Bush (rumoured to be too busy washing his comb-over that night)🤭 , Mitt Romney (unless hell freezes over) or Dick Cheney (More heart trouble, maybe? That would be weird considering he hardly ever seems to use his). Awks. Instead, a collection of gun lobbyists and anti-abortion activists will give speeches and try to make “Make America great again” great again, somehow.

🔸 In Russia, politics is bad for your health

The list of Putin critics who find themselves dead or on death’s door after speaking out against the Russian strongman leader “is almost tedious to recite”, as Russia analyst and writer Masha Gessen wrote in The New Yorker. Now, Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny has reportedly been poisoned, and was evacuated from Siberia to Germany as his team didn’t trust Siberian doctors. Of course, no-one knows whether Putin had anything to do with it, but the fact that his opponents have a tendency to nearly die thanks to poisoning every so often, is a pretty weird coincidence. In a neat inversion, medical experts in South Africa have been puzzled by our deputy president David Mabuza’s previous trips to Russia to be treated for poisoning. Whatever could he have to fear here, we wonder?

🔸 Mali’s coup overfloweth

President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita resigned last week after months of protest, supposedly over corruption and security issues. But experts say the fact that soldiers removed him from his home shortly before his resignation means that we need to call this what it is: a coup. Mali’s military has promised not to hold on to power for too long, but can we believe them?

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ INSPIRATION

▪️ Cheers to Pino!

Would you straight up tell your bosses they are idiots in your first week in a new job? That’s exactly what Thandy Pino did, and we couldn’t be prouder. Pino was the chief director of the Gauteng health department’s supply chain for exactly seven days when she blew the whistle on dodgy purchases for Covid-19 personal protective equipment. The result? She got suspended and insulted by her bosses. If you see Pino, give her a Bell’s. (It’s legal now!) 🥂

But it seems as though the Special Investigating Unit’s investigation into Covid-19 corruption at that department is really heating up, with a number of high ranking officials being interviewed in the last week. Hopefully it won’t be long before that probe exonerates Pino.

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🔹 Expect to hear plenty of reports from the US as their election race heats up. Trump is bound to make headlines with his speech on Thursday. Locally, it’s going to be an interesting week in politics: President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni have to appear in Parliament on Wednesday, and we’re expecting them to be grilled on a number of issues, from corruption to SA’s loan from the International Monetary Fund. This is what accountability looks like! 😊

That’s it from us at The Wrap, a product of https://www.explain.co.za/ – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾‍♀

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_Till next time, goodbye from Verashni, Sarah, Aarti and Matthew ✌🏽